Bassist Tim Thornton has an impressive CV already having worked with the likes of Gilad Atzmon, Ivo Neame and Gregory Porter to name but three and a residency at Ronnie Scott’s with the quartet and Late Late Show host has done the collective a power of good. Thornton’s debut recording, ‘New Kid’, from 2013 earned him the estimable prize of winner of the Rising Star category at the UK Jazz Awards that year and, judging by this new release, he has been progressing just nicely. The quartet has something of a classic bop feel with a lyrical accessibility and groove-laden blues vibe that is instantly catchy on the ear, but with sufficient depth to challenge the mind also. All but one of the compositions are originals by the band, with a noteworthy exception being a gorgeous take on McCartney’s ‘Here, there and everywhere’, which remains faithful to the original in the first half, before departing and being transformed into a lightly uplifting mid-tempo piece. On a second ballad, ‘Corona’, there is a tenor solo of great beauty by James Gardiner-Bateman who seems to have taken a leaf out of the Jackie McLean school of fiery bop. However, on the engaging post-bop excursion of ‘Sweet chin music’, it is clear that the altoist has been listening to Ornette Coleman as well. A soulful and relaxed feel greets the listener on ‘Newborn’ with some fine rim-shot drumming from Chris Draper and a lengthy bass solo from Thornton while very ably accompanied by some piano comping from Grant Windsor. If there was one minor reservation to make at this point in the quartet’s career, then it would be that some of the intros are a little samey in character and a little more variation at the outset of a given piece would not go amiss. Otherwise, extremely promising and with seven meaty selections on offer, the band have the composition lengths just about right while not overburdening the listener with an excess of numbers.
Tim Thornton and the quartet performed at the Pizza Express earlier this month but will be undertaking a more extensive tour in Spring 2016.